Published by Tranquebar Press: 2010
A road-novel, an odd-couple comedy, a darkly funny story about love on a wild-goose chase.
Dev, a young British-Asian writer in London, is suddenly informed by his live-in girlfriend, Jo, that she's pregnant. His reaction is to take off for Munich, leaving a note for Jo on the telephone table. What he tells her is that he urgently needs to recover a couple of old manuscripts from his ex-girlfriend, Heidi. What he doesn't say is that although Heidi left him years ago, he has never stopped hoping for a second chance with her.
But shortly after their meeting, Heidi disappears without a trace, and her furious mother places the blame entirely on Dev. Unfortunately, the only person who can help Dev to try and find her is the infuriating Rodrigo, the man Heidi left him for! Together, Heidi's two ex-boyfriends set off, squabbling all the time, in pursuit of their former lover. But as their journey progresses, it becomes apparent that each is nursing tender dreams of his own. Neither of them has quite figured out what he will do if and when they do find Heidi, and they haven't even reckoned with the possibility of there being a third man on the scene.
Their disaster-ridden journey leads them into adventures halfway around the world, but they never seem to get any closer to their goal. Meanwhile, there is a price to pay for dropping everything at home and taking off.
Two men thrown together, who could not be more different, but want the same woman equally badly. They will risk everything to reach her. This is their story.
Read an interview with Rajorshi on Balloonists in The Hindu.
Reviews of Balloonists:
"With his deceptively simple language, Chakraborti paints vivid, layered pictures. The lightness of his touch, the humour that pops up just as it is wont to at life's most funereal moments, mask his protagonists' sadness." - The Hindu, India.
"For Rajorshi Chakraborti this new novel is a venture into comic territory. A kind of exploration of the world that German filmmakers and sometimes old Hollywood comic thrillers normally tread. [...] This is a book thoroughly soaked in cinematic resonances: the animosity-turned-friendship between Dev and Rodrigo is reminiscent of a whole host of romantic Hollywood comedies. [...] Chakraborti's subtle style - because subtle it is despite the overt popularity of the genre he chooses - demands attention otherwise details can be missed." - The Statesman, India.
"The shortest of Chakraborti's books so far, this is also in some ways the most accessible, and certainly the funniest. [...] On one level, Balloonists can be read as an allegory for the paranoia of a man who isn't ready to be a father, terrified that this life-changing event will tether him to the world. By the end, it also reveals the traces of a surprisingly moving love story about someone who has been so damaged by an earlier relationship that he can no longer trust himself or feel attached to anything." - Biblio, India.
"In Balloonists, Rajorshi Chakraborti does quite a bit. [...] Fashionably racy, it is nevertheless not superficial. [...] The disaster-ridden search of these two incompatible men manages to keep the reader captivated." - Outlook, India
"Chakraborti's novel is an intensely funny one, but more importantly, a delight for the serious reader as it leaves a deep impact on the mind. [...] Balloonists focuses on Chakraborti's oft-trodden zone of the modern man's dilemma amidst life's complexities and hence, the tendency to escape and rely on the crutches of lies and deceptions arise prominently all throughout the novel. [...] Balloonists gets a thumbs-up recommendation for voracious readers ready to embark on another thought-provoking journey!" - Deccan Herald, India.
"I had read about Rajorshi Chakraborti before I actually read him. His third novel was my first foray into his works and I kept looking for signs of all that his interviews and profiles had primed me to, expect his exploration of the dense world of dreams, the protagonist with a permanent sense of exile, the plot points pinned down by his words, yet let loose because of their absurdity. But what I found in the first few chapters of Balloonists was a style I did not associate with Chakraborti's authorial persona.
"The narrative flows swiftly from the first line, to sprint across the pages in a racy, funny, deadpan monotone. It is only towards the end of part one of the novel […] that we reconsider everything we have read so far in a new light. Nothing can be taken at face value. […] Balloonists sets multiple interpretations adrift." - Sakaal Times, India.
You can buy a copy here.